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American Government Unit 4: Political Behavior: Government by the People. Chapter 5: Political Parties. Bellringer : list words or ideas associate with each of these labels. Democrat. Republican. I. Parties and What They Do. Objectives. Define a political party?

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Define a political party?

Describe the major functions of polticial parties.

Identify the reasons why the US has a two-party system.

Understand multiparty and one-party systems and how they affect the functioning of a polticial system.

a what is a party
A) What is a Party?

Political party – group of persons who seek to control government through the winning of elections and the holding of public office

Divided into three elements

Party Organization

Party in the Government

Party in the Electorate

b what parties do
B) What Parties Do

Link between governed and govern

Soften the impact of extremists

Political spectrum – range of political views (126)

Partisanship – the strong support of their party and its policy stands

Nominate Candidates

Informing and Activating Supporters

The Bonding Agent Function – pick good candidates


Watchdog Function

c the two party system
C) The Two-Party System

Started with the ratification of the Constitution – Federalists and Anti-Federlists

Traditionally we have thus always have had one so it is hard for 3rd parties to come forward

Single member districts – winner takes all – promotes 2 party

Plurality – the most, not the majority

Wasted vote – 3rd party member

Law discourages 3rd party

Bipartisan – two parties work together and find common ground (127)

Consensus – general agreement among groups

US has mostly been an ideologically consensus – we have had some divisions (Civil War) but for the most part - similar

d multiparty systems and one party systems
D) Multiparty Systems and One Party Systems

Multiparty systems lead to more diverseness but also lead to more instability

Coalition – temporary alliance of several groups who come together to form a working majority to control the government

One Party is also a no party – not a dictatorship

In ¼ of states today, a single party wins most elections - Chicago, “Solid South”


Understand the origins of political parties in the US.

Identify and describe the three major periods of single-party domination and describe the current era of divided government.

ii two party system in american history
II. Two Party System in American History

Federalists v. Anti-Federalists

Jefferson created the Democratic Republicans – 1800

Incumbent – current officeholder

Page 134-135

a the era of democrats
A) The Era of Democrats

Era of Good Feelings – only one real party – Jefferson’s 1800 – 1824

Factions – competing groups

Jacksonian democrats v. Whigs

Spoils system – practice of awarding public offices, contracts, and other favorers to those who supported the party in power.

1854 – Republicans created Ripon, WI.

Elected Lincoln in 1860

b the era of the republican
B) The Era of the Republican

From 1860 – 1932 – almost complete Republican control of the Presidency

Cleveland in 1884 and 1892, Wilson in 1912-1920

Republicans had tremendous prosperity

Democrats also to sectional – supported only in the South – Anti-Black (Solid South)

Electorate – the people eligible to vote

Sectionalism – emphasizes a devotion to the interests of a particular region

d the return of the democrats
D) The Return of the Democrats

Great Depression allowed Democrats to take over

New base of southerners, small farmers, labor, and big city politics supported economic and social welfare programs

African Americans left Republicans and became Democrats.

1932 – 1968 – only break was Eisenhower from 1952-1960 (moderate)

e era of divided government
E) Era of Divided Government

Nixon 1968-1974 ® (D)

Ford 1974-1975 ® Watergate (D)

Carter 1976-1980 (D) Hostages (D)

Reagan 1980 – 1988 ® (D)

Bush 1988-1992 ® Economy (D)

Clinton 1992-2000 (D) ®

Bush 2000 – 2008 ® ®

Obama 2008 -2012? (D) (D)/®


Do we appear to be on the verge of such an era of dominance of a party today? Why or why not?


Identify the types of minor parties that have been active in American politics.

Understand why minor parties are important despite the fact that none has ever won the presidency.

iii the minor parties
III. The Minor Parties





Natural law


American Independent



Short lived

Particular local

Single state

4 types

a minor parties in the united states
A) Minor Parties in the United States

Ideological parties – based on a particular set of comprehensive believes of social, economic, and political matters – most a share of Marxism

Single – Issue parties: focus on single public concern(free soil, Know Nothings, Right to Life Party)

Econo0mic Protest Parties – exist in times of economic distrust – they blame someone and demand better times (Wall Street, bankers, railroads, or imports)

Splinter Parties – parties that split away from major parties usually around a strong personality – most often who failed to win their parties nomination. (Roosevelt, George Wallace)

Green Party started as single issue – now it has spread.

b why minor parties are important
B) Why Minor Parties Are Important

Anti-Masons first used a convention to nominate a Presidential Candidate

Can play “spoiler” in an election – Nader in 2000 and Roosevelt in 1912

Act as critics and innovators

Most innovations are “stolen” by the bigger party


Why do you think a leader or group might seek to create a minor party even though their chances for winning are less than those of a major party?

A minor party is likely to be a victim of its own success. Explain the meaning of this statement.

In what ways can minor parties impact elections in this country?

iv party organization
IV. Party Organization


Understand why the major parties have a decentralized structure.

Describe the national party machinery and party organization at the State and local levels.

a the decentralized nature of the parties
A) The Decentralized Nature of the Parties

Dems and Repubs are both decentralized with little control from National to State to Local parties

The President is always the head of the political party – makes sense – power, favors, access to media

Federalism makes the parties decentralized – over 500,000 elected posts in the US. – Federalism is decentralized, helps make US also

Nominating a President can cause factions within the party – helping decentralize it

b national party machinery
B) National Party Machinery

National Convention – meets every 4 years and picks Pres and VP and adopts party platform and rules.

The National Committee – made up of all state chair people and other supporters – main goal is to stage the National Convention.

National Chairperson – chosen right after the President is nominated from the National Convention or elected.

Congressional Campaign Committee – Each party in each house have own campaign committees

c state and local party machinery
C) State and Local Party machinery

Have a state committee with a chairperson usually a front for the governor

Locally, it could be anything

Ward – unit in which cities are divided into districts

Precinct – smallest unit of election administration

Usually only active in the few months before an election


Project time

Design a Minor Political Party